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Paul’s Message on Work

Paul’s Message on Work

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 delves into the theology of work and why people need to work for themselves and the betterment of society. In 1 Thessalonians 4:12, Paul asserts, “so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on nobody” (Mkole, 2013). The statement by Paul means that working will offer individuals respect and dignity and also make them independent. Instead of evading work, Paul avers that Thessalonians have built a culture of working hard for their earnings and not evading work. Avoiding work and living off other people’s sweat is quite tempting, especially considering the hardships accompanying hard labor. Paul discourages people from embracing such a lifestyle and instead work and progressively improve themselves.

Paul’s assertion on disciplined living tells off Thessalonians who were mooching off others and taking advantage of their generosity. Thessalonians were living on the hope that Jesus would come any day, and some decided that working was unnecessary. By encouraging Thessalonians to work, Paul shows that he opposes idle living (Burke & Rosner, 2011). Idle people create trouble, especially when they cannot meet their needs. Paul calls on people to be industrious, not to create strife, but to live a quiet and comfortable life. However, Paul’s assertion indicates an undue bias against those who cannot work. According to Weidinger (2016), all men are created by God, with unalienable rights endowed to them by God. Therefore, Paul’s strong sentiment against those who cannot work indicates bias.


Burke, T. J., & Rosner, B. S. (2011). The Holy Spirit as the controlling dynamic in Paul’s role as missionary to the Thessalonians. Paul as Missionary: Identity, Activity, Theology, and Practice, 142-57.

Loba-Mkole, J. C. (2013). Ethics of prayer and work in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. HTS: Theological Studies69(1), 1-8.

Weidinger, B. (2016). Equal before God, and God Alone: Cultural fundamentalism,(Anti-) egalitarianism and Christian rhetoric in nativist discourse from Austria and the US.


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Paul's Message on Work

Paul’s Message on Work

In light of your readings, please respond (200 words max) to one aspect of the statement below. First briefly describe the text in your own words. Then respond to one aspect that stands out for you. What do you see to be the biases of the author?

1 Thes. 4.9-12

[9] But concerning love of the brethren you have no need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another;

[10] and indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, to do so more and more,

[11] to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you;

[12] so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on nobody.

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